I enjoy taking my kiddos out of school many days throughout the year. For example, we like to take them out of school on Fridays and/or family vacations. These times out of school do NOT involve sitting around playing video/computer games and sitting indoors. Instead, time is spent building family relationships, visiting extended family, going to historic places, and just being a kid running free! Does this make me a bad parent? Should you report me to DCFS? I would say… NO! On the other hand, does this mean that I think teachers are bad? I would say… No! However, I do think our children from grade school and especially into high school are being demanded of way too much of in the wrong area.
I work professionally with teenagers and I notice how much they are hating the learning process by the time they graduate. Sure, its normal not to care too much about school by senior year, but I am seeing something worse. I am seeing kids burnt out and becoming clinically depressed/anxious due to overwhelming pressure placed on grades. I am seeing kids distraught if they don’t have loads of college credits by the time the graduate high school. Why in the world do they need that college credit? After all, they will not be ready to enter the career field if they graduate college early at age 20. Pressure is coming from all angles towards these children. Overworked parents are demanding perfect grades and large course loads. Families seem to be okay with missing family dinner time because the kid has 3 hours of “busy work” homework to do. Kids can work hard… I see them bust their tails all the time. But what I see as the major problem with kids over the past years is they are not getting two major things: 1.not enough time with family 2. not enough time to create.
A couple months ago my kids got to leave school for 7 days and take a cross-country road trip to visit my brother and his lovely family in Ohio. There was no structure to this trip. The kids played outside with their cousins for hours everyday. My daughter learned how to sew by hand and made some of the coolest things. She did this while developing a loving and fun relationship with her aunt. My boys read books for fun and improved social skills while being with their cousins and even learned some farming skills. After all, the young years are not about what you learn academically, rather it is about developing social/emotional intelligence. Upon returning back home, my children were so excited to be back at school. They got caught up with all their assignments in a few days and were not set back with school work. The kids seemed to have a extra portion of excitement for learning.
School is taken too seriously… that’s the bottom line. Yes, I have a doctorate degree. Yes, I read multiple books a week. Yes, I would love to earn another doctorate degree. The thing is though, I don’t do it for anyone else. I’ve never learned for a professor. I’ve never learned for anything other than the sake of the burning desire in me to learn. What’s the secret to breed that desire to learn?
- Don’t put so much pressure on grades.
- Engage kids in creative activities outside of school
- Spend time as a family with children
- Take family field trips
I want to share a little more about not putting pressure on grades. Just because you stop hounding them about grades does not mean they will have poor grades. In high school I stopped caring about my grades and began caring about learning what I wanted to learn. Did I do busy work? Absolutely not! Learning was my focus. Kids need to learn to do uncomfortable things but that doesn’t mean they need to waste time doing busy work. Kids need to learn to think and create. Teachers do seem to want to actually teach kids. Any teacher I have spoken to wants to teach kids… its the policies and funding and crap that imposes all these curriculums that gives teachers no wiggle room. I hope this can change.
I want to reiterate that I fully support our teachers! It seems that funding, standardized tests, and so on override the flexibility teachers need to be able to teach in the best way. Thus, I believe its imperative that we as parents are involved in the education process. Sitting in school isn’t the only manner through which education happens. Get out, play hard, learn a lot!